HC Deb 11 April 1910 vol 16 cc877-8

asked the hon. Member for the Stroud Division, as representing the Charity Commissioners, whether he is aware that the Return of Endowed Charities (County of Wilts), made by order of the House of Commons on 9th August, 1901, and which was ordered by the House to be printed on 20th February, 1905, contains the provisions of the scheme of 1891, which was in force prior to that which has recently been submitted to a meeting of the ratepayers of the ancient parish of Lavington and to which they take exception, and that the receipt of Poor Law relief is not made a disqualification in the scheme of 1891 and that it does not appear that there was any such disqualification in the bequest under Alderman Dauntsey's will, and that local feeling is so strongly in favour of the removal of the provision in the new scheme as to disqualification on account of Poor Law relief that it is the intention of the parish council to obtain a legal decision on the point should the Charity Commissioners insist on maintaining the inclusion of such a clause, disqualifying, on account of receipt of Poor Law relief, applicants for admission to the Dauntsey Almshouses in their new scheme; and whether, under the circumstances, the Charity Commissioners will remove the disqualifying provision from their new scheme and take whatever steps may appear to them necessary, if any, to legalise their position due to the removal of this disqualification?


The scheme of 1891 was made under the Endowed Schools Acts, and did not affect the qualification of almspeople as prescribed in Alderman Dauntsey's will, which did not expressly disqualify persons in receipt of Poor Law relief. It has already been explained, however, that a rule of law laid down by the Court of Chancery disqualifies such persons, and that therefore the Commissioners consider that they would not be justified in removing the disqualifying provision from the new scheme. The rule can only be altered by legislation, as to the possibility of which I must refer the hon. Member to the Prime Minister. As to an appeal by the parish council against the proposed scheme, I may draw attention to the provisions of Section 8 of the Charitable Trusts Act, 1860, and Section 10 and 11 of the Charitable Trusts Act, 1869.


Arising out of that reply, I desire to ask the hon. Member whether, in view of the Prime Minister's declaration on Friday last that both parties are agreed as to the removal of the Poor Law disqualification from the Old Age Pension Act, he will use his influence with the Prime Minister to facilitate the passage of a short Bill that will enable the Charity Commissioners to remove the Poor Law disqualification from this and other schemes for the administration of charities?


I fear that my influence with the Prime Minister in this matter would be small.